For me, the month of May is all about mangoes. Growing up in India, the month of May is the peak of mango season; my mind is flooded with memories of “aamras and puri” (mango pulp and fried mini roti), mango milkshakes, “amrakhand” (the traditional shrikhand, a thick, sweetened yogurt, with a mango twist) and countless mango-based desserts and cakes that my mom made for our birthdays (my sister and I are both May-born).
So for the month of May as part of my cupcake project, the fruit of the month just had to be Mango. It didn’t matter what else is in season in California at the moment, it had to be mango! I’m always looking for delicious vegan recipes for my mom to bake in India with the ingredients easily available in India, so I decided to make these mango cupcakes vegan (and while I was at it, whole grain, with the use of whole wheat pastry flour)!
These cupcakes are light and moist with a great mango and cardamom flavor, and the mango frosting (made vegan with the use of Country Crock plant butter instead of regular dairy butter) is like cardamom-scented ball of fluff!
This post is a PSA for the glorious combination of blackberries and coconut. Try these out, and you too will wonder why we don’t see these two ingredients together more often! Strawberries and raspberries, sure – but why not blackberries! It’s baffling.
Here I’ve adapted a simple, dairy-free coconut muffin recipe into one that has pops of plump blackberries, that are almost jammy when baked. These are totally delicious and satisfying unadorned, but I couldn’t resist making a gorgeous lavender colored blackberry buttercream to show them a little extra love!
The cupcakes come together in no time, with no beaters or special equipment! I added some coconut flour in addition to the coconut oil, coconut milk and shredded coconut (okay – these are VERY coconut-y), that I think lends a nice bite to these treats!
Ever since I took the Wonders of Wonton class at San Francisco’s pop-up school The Civic Kitchen I’ve been on a bit of wonton bender. I had made two big batches of 2 types of wontons few weeks ago and I think I had them in the freezer but they seem to have disappeared, and they took some of the chili oil with them.
I had no option but to make more. Figured I would use leeks from my farm stand haul, with some tofu for bulk. I added some store bought lemongrass paste but it was quite intense, and a bit synthetic in flavor – the wontons tasted alright overall but not how I imagined they would. I guess I’ll need to try to a different brand or try to make my own – stay tuned! I’m not suggesting the paste in the recipe below but feel free to add 1-1 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite brand if you’d like to experiment (just adjust the salt and spice level accordingly)!
You can’t let February pass by without making something with blood oranges! Although this recipe can be made with any type of orange, or a combination of oranges, the blood orange makes it truly gorgeous: contrasting well in color and flavor with a meaty mild, white fish, such as cod, sole or sea bass.
Did you know that all the good “Pho” puns are taken? What the pho!
Anyway, over a year ago, we traveled to Sri Lanka through the always-amazing Black Swan Journeys based out of Pune, India. Since then we visited 3 more countries with them and I’m still working off the pounds I gained from (cooking and) eating my heart’s content in those fantastic countries (Maldives, Georgia, and Azerbaijan)! Black Swan Journeys specializes in highly customized, curated tours (culinary tours being just one of the many types), and their famous culinary tour in Vietnam entitled “Finding Pho” is coming up next month.After seeing thesevideos, I want to jump on the next flight out to join them! But considering we came back from Hawaii not 2 months ago, and the fact that our wallets and waistlines don’t always allow last-minute escapades half way across the world, we’ll have to settle for finding our “Pho” bliss here.
Luckily, we recently acquired an Instant Pot that makes “Finding Pho” both cheaper and faster than getting to Vietnam from California! But if you are anywhere near Vietnam, you have no excuse! While the folks on the culinary tour will find things much bigger than Pho in Vietnam, we’ll temporarily make our peace with the Pho concocted here, with some Vietnamese Spring rolls for company (and crunch). This will do for now, although I hope we get to find ourselves (and Pho) in Vietnam soon enough!
When it comes to Indian Food, the term “Indian” is too generic. There are so many regions in India (and sub-regions, and sub- sub-regions, and so on), each with its own list of ingredients, spice palette and flavor profile, not even everyone in India knows what’s cooking elsewhere within India. Within Indian food, the cuisine I’m most comfortable with is Maharashtrian – the food from the western state of Maharashtra (that’s where the big cities like Mumbai [Bombay to some] and Pune [Poona to some] are located). Sometimes referred to as “Marathi” food (Marathi is the language spoken in Maharashtra), it has many, many sub-types. Each region brings its own style, and each family adds a flavor of its own, to complicate matters further in the most delicious way possible.
Growing up, the various men and women in my family had different cooking styles and preferences, so I got to sample lots of different kinds of food and everything [Indian] that I cook today is influenced by my mom, dad, grandmother, aunts, and more recently, the sibling unit that makes its own spice mixes from scratch, just because. My husband’s and mother-in-law‘s cooking style has also influenced my cooking in the last couple of years since they are both amazing cooks, hailing from a different sub-region! When I make “Upma” (a semolina porridge with ginger, green chillies and green peas), I make it like my grandmother’s – I don’t like anything brown too much, and the end result is a soft, white, comforting bowl of heaven. I also copy her garnish, which, like most people who grew up in the coastal regions, is a generous heap of freshly grated coconut! Well, when I indulge, anyway. On a more regular basis I make Upma with quick cooking (1-minute) oatmeal or steel-cut oatmeal because its lighter and healthier. But when it comes to one of my Dad’s trademark preparations, even my mom, who’s the best cook I know, defers to him for instructions and so do I. I hope to post about his “Dal Fry” (spiced Lentil Stew) on the blog soon!